On Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

One of my tasks at the public library is to “finish processing books” which is a fancy way of saying I take a new book, glue in its pocket, make sure the spine label matches the pocket information, stamp it twice with our library’s name and release it to the public. Of course I also read the jackets of the books that look interesting and check out the ones I like most before they reach the shelves. Good times.

A few months ago, I finished processing Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. It’s one of the most uniquely designed novels I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to read it immediately, but I put it on the shelves because I didn’t want to hoard it while I was in the midst of another thick novel. A patron checked it out, and I snagged it when it was returned.

The story turned out to be a strange and lovely as the physical design. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children reminded me of a vintage X-men–a wise woman provides safety and instruction to Peculiars from all over the world, helping them understand and use their special gifts. Miss Peregrine’s orphanage exists in Wales in the 1940s, in the midst of WWII.

It’s difficult to review this novel without giving away its secrets. The novel takes place in the present…sort of.  The narrator Jacob is a rich but socially awkward sixteen-year-old who seeks to learn more about his grandfather, a Jewish orphan who lived at Miss Peregrine’s orphanage as a teen. Jacob learns that he isn’t just suffering delusions; instead, the world is a darker more magical place than he realized.

For me the highlights of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children were:

  • The vintage photographs. They are real, gathered from several collectors. Ransom Riggs fashioned his story around these bizarre photographs.
  • Jacob’s voice. He’s an honest, intelligent but flawed character.
  • The descriptions and metaphors. They are far from cliché.

I wonder if there will be a sequel. I feel like the novel is strong on its own, and that somehow the story might suffer if continued. However, I’d love to read any other story by this author. I hope he is working on something new.




One thought on “On Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

  1. I was fortunate to interview Jason Rekulak, the editor associated with this project. This is what he said about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children just before its release:

    “It’s kind of interesting how it came about. This guy came to me with some photos. He collects found photography. The author is a screenwriter in Los Angeles and he collects these vintage photographs. He wanted to do a book about them and I said, well, you know that’s more of an art book and is not something we would do. Then he showed me this really interesting subset of his collection that was just photos of kids from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. These kids looked really weird. You know how kids looked back then. They kind of dressed like miniature adults and carry all these weird toys and dolls. They’re just really creepy. I suggested to him, because he’s a screenwriter, why don’t you write a novel about these kids. It could be about the orphanage where they live and we could include these photos in the book and have the book studded with these photographs. So he went away for 18 months and came back with this really wonderful, creepy, and totally entertaining YA novel.”

    You can read more of my interview with Mr. Rekulak at: http://allisonsbookbag.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/interview-with-jason-rekulak/

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